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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors. White Squall, Thelma and Louise, Blade Runner, Matchstick Men, all great films that I have watched at least twice. Prometheus, his latest Sci-Fi thriller, is pretty good, but it also gives me the feeling that Scott is succumbing to a common but devastating illness plaguing our great current gray-maned directors: Self Referential Syndrome. SRS is characterized by a pathological need to remind audiences of previous cinematic coups through imagery and dialogue. Brian DePalma's Snake Eyes gnawed shamelessly on the carcass of his earlier, better film, Blow Out. Another example: everything Roland Emmerich did after Independence Day. And if you don't see the similarities between Jaws and Jurassic Park, watch them again. This is not to say that the result is necessarily bad when a director falls back on an old standby. That was case when Woody Allen made Small Time Crooks, and basically dissected and blended his 1970s film Take the Money and Run. And that's the case with Prometheus, Scott's modern day Alien semi-sendup that initially promises to explain the origin of out species and then pouts, arms akimbo, while giving us a coy smile. Some people say it's a prequel to Alien. Maybe that's the case, but if Scott had the intention of making this film a prequel to Alien, it certainly felt like a cutesy afterthought. 

The setup is fairly simple. A couple of scientists (Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender) find cave paintings in Scotland that match many others they have found. These paintings suggest that there are beings far off in space that created human beings. The scientists get on board a spaceship with a bunch of other professionals (what they do doesn't matter, because, big surprise, they die) and head to another galaxy to find their "Engineers." They're led by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) who is a cold, hardened boss but who cares, she has no character development and spends the film looking like a Real Girl Dollâ„¢.

Needless to say, they do not find paradise, nor do they discover their purpose for being. I can't say much more without spoiling it, but I will say this: Prometheus is a beautiful film, a suspenseful film (at times) and an interesting film. It made me thing about issues such as free will, bio terrorism, and a woman's right to choose (if you don't believe me, just watch the scene in which Rapace) can't get the medical crew to abort her deadly alien....oh, never mind, I don't want to ruin it). It is not, however, a new film. Granted, the technology is new, but the photography in Prometheus is no more effective for the audience than it is in Alien. Promethus is a film I will probably want to see more than once, and I might like it better the second time (after all, that was how it worked with Blade Runner). It has a lot of depth, and if you like cerebral fantasy, it is a good midnight movie choice. But don't spend $10 on this movie--wait for the rental and use the extra money to rent Alien.